Boxer Delivers Floor Speech on Nelson Amendment

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) delivered a floor speech yesterday in the US Senate addressing the anti-abortion Stupak/Pitts amendment in the House of Representatives and the similar Nelson amendment proposed this week in the Senate. Today’s debate of Senator Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) amendment is being covered live on CSPAN2.

Excerpts of Senator Boxer’s remarks are as follows:

“There is one thing that was taken care of in the Reid bill that we didn’t think we would have an argument about; that is, we thought we had an understanding that we were not going to bring up the issue of abortion; that it was not necessary to do it because we were not doing anything in the bill — Senator Reid doesn’t do anything in the bill that changes the current agreement (the Hyde Amendment).

“…But over on the House side they passed the radical Stupak amendment which strikes at the heart of this delicate compromise by preventing women from using their own private funds for their legal reproductive health care. That is a big shock because women have been able to utilize their own private funds in order to get a legal procedure — legal procedure — and never has anyone, to my knowledge, on either side of the aisle said she could not get access to insurance to cover the whole range of legal reproductive health care if she uses her own funds. This amendment takes us way back.

“…The men who have brought us this do not single out a procedure that is used by a man, or a drug that is used by a man, that involves his reproductive health care and say they have to get a special rider. There is nothing in this amendment that says if a man someday wants to buy Viagra, for example, that his pharmaceutical coverage cannot cover it; that he has to buy a rider. I would not support that. And they should not support going after a woman, using her own private funds, for her reproductive health care.

“…Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land. I know a lot of my colleagues would like to see it overturned. They would like to make abortion illegal at the earliest stages. They would like to criminalize it. They would like to put women and doctors in jail. The fact is, Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. At the early stages of a pregnancy, a woman has a right to choose. That is the law. Later on, she can’t do it. There are restrictions for her, hurdles for her. That is what Roe does.

“There are many people, particularly on the other side of the aisle — more than on our side, for sure — who want to overturn Roe. They know they can’t do it because the vast majority of the people support a woman’s right to choose at the early stages of a pregnancy. So what can they do? They can make it impossible for her to access a doctor for this procedure. In this bill, they go after her insurance. It is surprising to me that such an amendment could pass the House, but it did.

“I am asking my colleagues, women and men, both sides of the aisle, to please stand up for equality. Please don’t single out women. What have women done to deserve this? They are our mothers, our daughters, our grandmas. They serve in the military with dignity. Why punish them this way? Why have such a lack of respect for them that they can’t even get reproductive health care with their own private funds? It is, to me, such a rollback of women’s rights.”


Senator Barbara Boxer Floor Speech 12/7/09

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